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Media Server and/or HTPC build


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#1 tbris84

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

I'm looking into building either a standalone media server and a standalone HTPC for the living room, or a combo of the two in one box. How many of you have a dedicated media server and what does it consist of, hardware and software wise. Any pointers before I start piecing one together? I would like to atleast start off with 4x3TB drives in some sort of RAID configuration. Is unRAID a stable, worth while alternative? Any advice to get me going here would be appreciated.

 

Looking so far at an Intel based platform, using onboard HDMI. Probably Z77 chipset and 8GB RAM. The rest is entirely up in the air, especially the case. Just want a simple, black in/out case with ~12 bays.


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#2 Waco

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:35 AM

I pretty much run a regular PC with a bunch of drives in RAID on it that stays up 24/7.

If you're just going to do basic serving and you want to actually be able to recover from errors you should probably have some standard drive to boot from and run your storage array with software RAID of some type. unRAID only allows for 3 drives if you don't buy it, so I'd say pass. You have the CPU power (no matter what on s1155) to do everything in software even if you run a full OS like Windows 7/8.

I run Win 7 on mine and it works great as both a NAS box and a media PC.

Hardware:
Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4
Core i3 2120
8 GB RAM
1.5 TB boot drive (which is nearly empty)
4x1.5 TB RAID 0+1
2x2 TB RAID 1
2x1 TB RAID 1
1x2 TB spare drive

All of the drives in RAID are in external eSATA boxes off of a cheap silicon image RAID card. To do the RAID 0+1 I have two each of the 1.5 TB drives in RAID 0, then I mirror those two arrays in Windows to effectively get RAID 0+1.

It's served me well for many years now (just slowly upgraded along the way).

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#3 AZNguyen

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:16 AM

The easiest NAS setup would probably be using Windows or Linux, so you wouldn't have to worry about certain software not being available for your OS. As for hardware, that's up to your needs. I went with a ZFS build, since I had a helpful friend to help me along the way.
 
I must admit I have a hard-on for ZFS haha. Pooled storage is very nice. I don't have to worry about setting partition sizes or anything. I just create a new file system and its basically fill as I go until the pool runs out of space. ZFS also doesn't care about if you use a cheap or expensive RAID controller, since it has built-in RAID functionality. Any RAID controller you use in ZFS you have to put it into JBOD mode (Just a bunch of disks) so that ZFS can handle the disks directly.
 
NAS:
Intel Pentium G630
Gigabyte Z68MA-D2H-B3
G.Skill 16GB
Corsair CX430
3x 3TB in RAID-Z (Enhanced RAID-5 for ZFS)
2x 1.5TB as offline backups (I might as well throws these into a live RAID-1)
OS: ZFSguru (based on FreeBSD)
 
I have it running samba (for Window Shares), OpenSSH, vsftpd, SABnzbd+, and ruTorrent. I manage it using a combination of the ZFSguru webGUI and SSH terminal (putty). Sadly no Plex/PS3 Media Server ports for FreeBSD atm. I tried running VirtualBox for them, but puts CPU idle at 20-35% from 0-1% so I opt'ed out of that for now.
 
There are other options for a ZFS NAS OS like FreeNAS (better support and documentation, but stripped down FreeBSD while ZFSguru is not) and NAS4Free. There may be limitations for these, but I didn't bother looking into them since ZFSguru was completely free and had access to FreeBSD portstree.

Gaming || Intel i7 3770K || Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 || G.Skill 2x 4GB || EVGA GTX 680 2 GB || Corsair TX750 V2 ||

|| 3x Dell UltraSharp U2312HM || Corsair Vengeance K90 || Logitech G700s || Audio-gd NFB 15.32 || Hifiman HE400 ||

HTPC || Intel Celeron G530 || Gigabyte Z68MA-D2H-B3 || G.Skill 4GB || CM Elite 460W ||

NAS || Intel Pentium G630 || Gigabyte Z68MA-D2H-B3 || G.Skill 16GB || Corsair CX430 || IBM M1015 || 21 TB Storage ||


#4 dr_bowtie

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:16 AM

I do the same as Waco....

 

any PC will work as a media streamer.... an old PC as it doesnt need any kind of CPU horsepower.... even an Atom based hardware would work... Two things that are important are Ram and intranet speeds. Gigabit intranet is important. I just use whatever router and a Gigabit switch and make sure the connected PCs and Server run off the switch.

 

For 3TB drives you WILL need a board with a UEFI Bios...

 

For the server I'd go cheaper with AMD or whatever Intel thats close... Like an A6 Dual core or a lower end A*-Quad.... 8gb ram and use the onboard and Remote Desktop into it once it is set up...

 

As for the HTPC I build a ton of those with the AMD E-350/E-450... those are cheap and very solid for HTPC... I use the mini-ITX boards with an mini-ITX case


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#5 Renigade

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 03:00 PM

I am almost finished with my home networking cable runs have all but 2 rooms left and just started looking for a stand alone storage that has raid.

out of the box for about $600 the EBoX R5 is what I have been looking at.

 

 

EDIT: I was looking at this because I want to tuck it in the laundry room  with my 16 port switch. I was thinking it would be easier on the Electric bill then a full PC and it is configurable through a GUI or  at the box with the display screen

 

or you can go with this if you are set on a PC build

Port Multiplier SATA hardware raid controller - driver-less - SPM394

315fRP5geXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

for about $180 http://www.datoptic....ler-spm394.html

 

They do work with 3 TB drives


Edited by Renigade, 03 February 2013 - 05:36 AM.


#6 tbris84

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:57 PM

I just priced out a decent Storage/HTPC build and it's looking something like this.

 

NZXT Source 210 (8x HDD slots) [$40]

ASRock Z77 Pro4 Z77  [$110]

Intel Core i3-3220 [$130]

4x Samsung 4GB DDR3-1600 [$90]

Corsair CX430M [$50]

4x Seagate Barracude 3TB [$560]

 

Total: $980

 

I'm thinking it might just be better and more cost effective (just $560 for the HDD's) for me to just utilize my massive 800D case with the 4 available 5.25" slots, and 5 remaining 3.5" slots. My motherboard, ASRock Z77 Xtreme4 supports both RAID 0 & 5. I could use my four hotswap bays for four 3TB drives in a RAID 5 and both of my 830 128GB SSD's in RAID 0. If I had a HTPC and my gaming rig, both systems wouldn't be used simultaneously anyway. What are the obvious(and not so obvious) disadvantages to using my gaming rig as an HTPC and Media Server?


  • Intel Core i5-3570K
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme4
  • EVGA GTX 680 SC
  • Samsung 30nm 8GB
  • 2x Samsung 830 128GB SSD
  • 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB (in RAID 0)
  • Pioneer 15x Bluray Burner
  • Lite-On 24X DVD Writer
  • SeaSonic X750
  • Corsair Obsidian 800D

#7 AZNguyen

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:28 AM

What are the obvious(and not so obvious) disadvantages to using my gaming rig as an HTPC and Media Server?

Noise and Heat can be fixed with good fans.

If something critical breaks, you lose access to all 3 (gaming, HTPC, media server) since its all on one machine.

 

However if you want to consolidate to save space and money its an available option. 


Gaming || Intel i7 3770K || Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 || G.Skill 2x 4GB || EVGA GTX 680 2 GB || Corsair TX750 V2 ||

|| 3x Dell UltraSharp U2312HM || Corsair Vengeance K90 || Logitech G700s || Audio-gd NFB 15.32 || Hifiman HE400 ||

HTPC || Intel Celeron G530 || Gigabyte Z68MA-D2H-B3 || G.Skill 4GB || CM Elite 460W ||

NAS || Intel Pentium G630 || Gigabyte Z68MA-D2H-B3 || G.Skill 16GB || Corsair CX430 || IBM M1015 || 21 TB Storage ||


#8 Waco

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:00 AM

If you want it up 24/7 it'll be painful. I'd suggest going with RAID 6 with that large of an array though - if you lose a drive with a 12 TB RAID 5 set you will likely never get it rebuilt without an uncorrectable read error.

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#9 tbris84

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:17 AM

 

What are the obvious(and not so obvious) disadvantages to using my gaming rig as an HTPC and Media Server?

Noise and Heat can be fixed with good fans.

If something critical breaks, you lose access to all 3 (gaming, HTPC, media server) since its all on one machine.

 

However if you want to consolidate to save space and money its an available option. 

 

 

Noise and Heat aren't an issue the way it is right now. The only added noise would be that of the spinning platters, which I think would still be almost inaudible. 

 

Something breaking is a bearable risk. Assuming it's replaceable, or in regard to the RAID setup, rebuildable. 

 

I think, for me, those risks are acceptable for the money savings. Thanks!

 

 

If you want it up 24/7 it'll be painful. I'd suggest going with RAID 6 with that large of an array though - if you lose a drive with a 12 TB RAID 5 set you will likely never get it rebuilt without an uncorrectable read error.

 

Well it doesn't really need to be up 24/7. I live alone and only I would be using it when home. So realistically it would be running ~80 hours per week, or 12/7. I don't know if that effectively double's the lifespan, or not, but hopefully helps prolong drive stability. 

 

Would switching from a 4x 3TB RAID 5 to a 5x 2TB RAID 5 reduce my chance of an uncorrectable read error? Since it would be spanning 5 drives instead of 4?

 

I am trying to keep the drives under $600, really closer to $500. Putting 4x 3TB into RAID 6 only leaves me with 6TB(50% efficiency), essentially $93 per TB. If I were to go with 5x 2TB RAID 5, I would have 8TB(80% efficiency) @ $63 per TB. However, if increasing the number of drives doesn't benefit me at all, I could even go with a 5x 2TB RAID 6, leaving me still with 6TB(60% efficiency), but only costing $83 per TB. 

 

Assuming my math is correct, which route would you recommend? Also, am I able to increase the capacity later on by adding drives to it in the future? If yes, how risky is that and is it worth that risk? Have you done it?


Edited by tbris84, 03 February 2013 - 10:19 AM.

  • Intel Core i5-3570K
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme4
  • EVGA GTX 680 SC
  • Samsung 30nm 8GB
  • 2x Samsung 830 128GB SSD
  • 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB (in RAID 0)
  • Pioneer 15x Bluray Burner
  • Lite-On 24X DVD Writer
  • SeaSonic X750
  • Corsair Obsidian 800D

#10 Waco

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

The problem is the array size. Once you break the 10 TB barrier you have something like a 50/50 shot at rebuilding should you lose a drive.

More drives isn't necessarily better or worse really - one one hand you have less data (per drive) to rebuild for parity with smaller drives and it will go faster but you have a higher chance of losing a drive since you have more of them.

Personally I'd go with 5x 2 TB drives in RAID 6 if I was building a new large array just for the cost.

You just have to balance the chance of losing a drive...then having your array shot because you hit an uncorrectable read error by the time you rebuild.

http://www.high-rely...ng-in-2009-not/
Here's a scary calculator: http://www.raid-fail...d5-failure.aspx
(I use the highest read error rate for these since you're using consumer drives)

4 x 3 TB drives has a 38% chance of rebuilding.
5 x 2 TB drives has a 45% chance of rebuilding (this is only better because the array is smaller)

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#11 suedenim

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 12:51 AM

ZFS over RAID - I'm with AZNguyen on that score, but not enough to get hard :)

 

ZFS on Linux and you're running a Linux home server. I'll be doing this for my Mythbuntu server once I get the money for the HDDs and the DVBT card.


Edited by suedenim, 04 February 2013 - 12:51 AM.

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#12 Prunes

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:26 AM

Sorry for intervening here since this thread is primarely about hardware. I was just wondering what software you guys use? I've been contemplating on making a HTPC as well for movies and such. For that I was planning to use linux with XMBC. Any experience with XMBC?


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